Cleaning Different Types Of Area Rugs- Parker CO

Cleaning Different Types Of Area Rugs- Parker CO

Cleaning Sisal Fiber Area Rugs 

There are a number of fibers used in rug making that originate from vegetable or plants. These include jute, hemp, flax (linen), raime (rhea) abaca, sisal, pineapple, coir reeds, or sea grass and kapok. Each of these specialty fibers have cleaning properties similar to cotton. Most provide a coarse texture rather than the refined look of cotton, but each rug is unique unto itself. Sisal originates from the leaves of the ‘Agave Sisalana’ plant which is native to Central America.

Jute is a baste fiber obtained from the stalk of the jute plant found, primarily in Pakistan, India, and South America. Jute was once used as the secondary backing of choice for most broad wall carpet constructions until a greedy monopoly in India forced US carpet producers to seek other material for this secondary backing.

Rayon is manufactured from regenerated cotton pulp or wood pulp. Rayon uses several chemical properties to develop the refined look of silk. Since each of these fibers are cellulosic, each has a high probability of browning as a result of cleaning. Use a low moisture technique such as dry foam extraction carpet cleaning, Host or Capture, for these rugs to minimize cellulosic browning. Use the guidelines for cotton in cleaning these plant fiber rugs.

One added precaution for Sisal is the type of dye system used for the rug- many utilized a stenciled or printed dye system to apply dye. Color stability is usually a primary concern for these types of rugs. Careful chemical selection and light agitation should be used in caring for these rugs.

Nylon Area Rugs 

Nylon is the most common fiber that you will encounter in buying area rugs. It provides the best all-around performance of any fiber, offering long wear life, abrasion, resistance, good cleanability with a wide variety of cleaning chemicals and cleaning methods. It offers low water absorbency (6-10% moisture regain), good resiliency, and excellent dimensional stability. Visit our carpet cleaning section for information on cleaning these types of rugs.

Cleaning Olefin Rugs 

Olefin fibers (polypropylene) are found in a large number of rugs because they are easy to manufacture, can be manufactured cheaply, provide good durability, can be cleaned with all carpet cleaning methods, and can be cleaned with almost any cleaning chemistry. Review our carpet pile fibers area for a complete description of the advantages and disadvantages of olefin. 

One caution should be noted with olefin area rugs, however. Olefin is an oleophilic (oil-loving) fiber. Oily soils are easily absorbed into the fiber. By the same example, oily cleaning solvents have the same negative characteristic. For example, while mineral spirits is a very good cleaner for many fibers, its oily texture might not be a good choice for cleaning oleophilic fibers like olefin or polyester.

Cleaning Polyester Area Rugs 

Polyester, like olefin, is another of those oleophilic fiber systems and care should be taken in placing a polyester area rug in areas exposed to oily soil or other oily stains. Polyester is a fiber that is most similar to wool in the way it reflects color.

Polyester is easily cleanable and is very versatile, in that it is very affable to a variety of cleaning chemistry's and cleaning methods. It cleans very well and dries relatively quickly. 

Cleaning Wool Rugs 

Wool rugs require special care and our section on Cleaning wool carpet addresses many of the issues with wool fiber. The pH of wool should be cleaned on the neutral or acid side of the pH scale to limit browning. Wool holds up to 10 times its weight in water and is subject to shrinking, so use caution with wet cleaning.

There are 4 basic recommendations Made by the Wools of New Zealand for chemistry selection:

  1. low alkalinity (pH of 7 or less)
  2. Select a solution that leaves no sticky residue following drying
  3. Select a product with good cleaning efficacy
  4. Do not use cleaning products with added bleaches or dyes

One of the most important recommendations (not mentioned by Wools of New Zealand) is to select a product that DOES NOT CONTAIN OPTICAL BRIGHTENERS. Optical Brighteners actually dye the fiber and make them appear brighter. However, these dyes degrade and can remove rug color, yellow, and cause fibers to take on a dingy hue over time. At one-time Woolite® contained these optical brighteners. Check label information carefully. Even if the cleaning product carries the Wools of New Zealand seal, check the label to confirm that these products are not contained. For an image that shows this optical brightener damage, visit or Unusual carpet stains page.


From the modest welcome mat to the antique treasure, all rugs require regular care to prolong their life and appearance. These rugs can quickly fill with dry soil allowing soil to transfer to other surfaces inside the home. Dry soil, environmental pollutants, and spills also can damage the fibers of rugs and reduce their attractiveness. 

A regular maintenance program will extend the life and the original appearance of your area rugs. Specific care information may be available from your area rug dealer, or from an 800 number provided by the area rug manufacturer or fiber producer. 

Regular attention can keep your area rugs clean and new looking. A good practice is to vacuum clean area rugs that receive the most traffic on a daily basis. These areas are where the bulk of the soil is located. Vacuum the entire area rug a minimum of twice per week. 

To properly care for your rugs, vacuum regularly to remove dry soil, taking care when vacuuming fringe and edging. A straight suction vacuum is recommended to limit raveling. Cleaning should take place at regular intervals to remove insoluble soils and environmental pollutants. Removing loose soil while it remains on the surface is important. Normal traffic will work soil deep into the pile. Removing embedded soil is more difficult and time consuming than removing surface soil. 

To remove surface soil, push the vacuum forward with the pile direction of the area rugs in a slow, deliberate motion. Push the vacuum several feet before reversing direction. To remove embedded soil, pull the vacuum, against the pile direction, over the same area using a slow, deliberate motion. There should be more resistance when pulling the vacuum against the pile. Pulling the vacuum against the pile direction stands the pile upright and improves the removal of embedded soil. Repeat this procedure several times to remove as much embedded soil as possible. Make the final vacuum stroke in the same direction throughout your home for a more uniform appearance. 

Area Rugs 

Area rugs should be professionally cleaned yearly to remove environmental pollutants, spills, and insoluble soils. In selecting a cleaning method, consider that most cleaning methods may be used on synthetic fibers; however, natural fibers may require specialized care. (See Selecting a Carpet Cleaning Method) Do-it-yourself cleaning of natural fibers is discouraged

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